Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dear Sons It's Winter Time And I Can't Sleep

Dear Sons;
November came in with a vengeance. I woke up and immediately knew why - my feet were so cold! I stuck my head outside the backyard door, my way of testing the temperature for the day and figuring out what to wear. While many love the feel of the cool brisk air, when I felt it my heart went into a panic. I used to love Winter as a child and now as a mother I loathe it.

Boys, I loathe it. As you grew up into wonderful fine young men I knew. I knew that protecting you from the sicknesses of the world would get harder. Winter was coming and it was more than the weather that I needed to shield you from.

You are amazing young men now. You are upstanding, civic minded, compassionate, kind and loving young men. You are Black Latino men. So when I picked and chose your scarves and your hats and outer wear I always had to keep that in mind. No dark scarves and hats for you. For years you all balked at the bright and very obvious hat wear I chose for you. You made faces and said people would laugh and and smiled and told you that unique and bright was not only the way to go but the way to be seen. Why no mother wants her child almost camouflaged out there with those ridiculous New York City drivers and in the Winter Time! I was always fearful of bad driving and weather conditions making that even worse but I was also fearful that Black Men in dark clothes made for bad judgment calls from sick, stupid and ignorant people. So yes, your mom was grateful for neon and fluorescent and anything else that made you all stick out like sore thumbs because at least you'd have a greater chance of coming home safe.

The years you had to wear preppy style clothing and never be seen as "bummy" or "casual" outside our doors were no different. It was about character my loves but not yours. The shady character of people out in the world ready to be judge and jury and make you their victim. All for being who you are. My not allowing you to wear hoodies (how was I to know a decade later just how right I was) or dark scarves that covered most of your faces. You were never ever allowed to wear ski masks. Now that you all ski and snowboard I worry about that too. Scarves and hoods that are meant to protect you from the elements, keep your head warm and yet now only makes you yet another target and what's worse, now from the very people you expected to protect to.

I spun stories of how being unique in your style and learning to tune out the opinions of others made you into stronger men and I wasn't wrong about that. Yet I knew in my heart I had more motive to do so, to keep you safe from the injustices of others and allowing you a sliver of a childhood others enjoyed without any interruption.

You are all older now, on your own and you pick and choose what to wear as you please. You are wonderful men and so now I say it for you to hear it as clear as day. Do not wear dark clothes this Winter or hats and hoodies that conceal your face. Wear scrunchy wool hats and ear muffs and bright colored scarves. Don't wear worn out footwear or jeans when you go out. Please please don't wear hoodies but use thick scarves to guard your neck and shoulders from the cold. I say all this simply because you are Black and Latino. I say this because you are men. I say this because in this country you will be seen as invisible and used to make someone else's point all because all you were looking to do was try to stay warm.
Yes, I used to love Winter as a child but then I grew up and become a mother. A mother to amazing Black Latino boys and now I hate the Winter.
Please stay warm and always remember what I taught you and stay safe.

Love always,
Your Mom

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer by trade, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and parenting.
She is writing a book on a series of "Dear Sons" letters to her three sons on an array of topics and issues.
Carmen's website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Carmen's books can be found online at both Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon
and Barnes and Noble at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/carmen-m-colon.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Latinas Who Launch Lives - An Interview With Maria Aponte, Activist, Author, Poet, Performing Artist, Educator

One of the greatest pleasures people should always acknowledge is meeting someone whose life's journey immediately impacts yours. To meet someone to look up to, who can mentor you and provide insight into the world at large is a priceless gift. In a world where we can so easily be made to feel marginalized and non-existent regardless of who we are, when we meet these people we find that we are in the presence of a pioneer in many ways.

I have always enjoyed meeting new people and when those people are known farther and wider than the circles I am familiar with it is exciting. For here is someone who fearlessly left "the nest", to go forth and "seek new experiences" beyond what they were taught and what they knew. Yes, I wanted to be just like them and when I met them I tried to soak in as much information of new things, as well as old customs, as I could.

These interviews are of such times. Welcome to my series of Latinas Who Launch Lives. For so many Latinas it seems we all have our set road to travel when it comes to family and along that road we find that circumstances veer us off and slams us into a life we would have never imagined. Along the way we meet iconic people or horrific people and we learn valuable lessons from them all. It shapes how we think, how we feel and how we proceed.

These women in this series used everything that was thrown at them to make a difference, not only for themselves and their families but also for their communities. They survive to tell the tale. They survive because they are not going to 'go off quietly or peacefully into the dark night'.

Maria Aponte

Community Arts Activist/Educator, Poet/Performance Artist, Maria works in Latino Theatre against racial discrimination and women’s rights. She has written and performed two one woman shows, Lagrimas de mis Madres an autobiographical play based on the women in her family, and I Will Not be Silenced based on the life of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Maria has performed her work at various colleges/universities and conferences locally and nationally.
She has been featured on Bronx Net, News 12 and NBC Latino. In 2010, Maria received the V-DAY Award for special recognition from the Eve Ensler Foundation for “someone who has suffered or witnessed violence, and then does extraordinary work to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else in their community.” In May 2013 Maria’s book, Transitions of a Nuyorican Cinderella won 2nd Place for Best Poetry in English at the International Latino Book Awards. Maria is a Career Counselor and Coordinator of Diversity Initiatives in Career Services at Fordham University. In May 2014 Maria received her Masters in Latin American and Latino Studies from Fordham University.

Maria is currently embarking on a new journey and is spearheading an event entitled Latinas Plus 50.

"In honoring these women I am creating an annual event that will highlight the selected Latina Women over Fifty who will be invited to a community gathering where they will have an opportunity to speak about their journeys of challenges and accomplishment. The women will be honored in their specific field, be it community activism, education, law or the arts. The inaugural Latina Fifty-Plus luncheon will be held on Saturday, June 21st , 2014 at Fordham University, Bronx Campus conjunction with the East Harlem Café, and I will be collaborating with La Casa Azul Bookstore to arrange press coverage for the event." ~ Maria Aponte

Interview With Maria Aponte

CMC: In a society that ostracizes women for getting older, does our traditional ways of reversing and respecting our elders clash or embrace women over 50?

Maria: In terms of ostracizing women for getting older I think that culturally we are in a transformation as to how society views women and aging. There seems to be a contradiction on how you are supposes to age, verses the idea that being youthful is still the cultural norm for acceptance. The whole concept of women aging and becoming acceptable is only about a decade old. And for as much as we publicly like to say that aging is becoming, it is not. When you look at the workforce and I say from the perspective that I work in a career counseling field, many older women and men are being phased out from their jobs because of age. When you work in a very youth oriented workforce the older woman tends to be shut out because they are placed in a category where they are related to the younger person’s parents age or what their concept of the older person should be and then the dynamics of interaction change.

As for our traditional ways of revering and respecting our elders and if our traditions respect or clash or embrace women over 50 depends on the person their background and family experience. In general, I feel that Latina women over 50 are expected to age a certain way and grow into the roles that traditionally has been held for older women. I think older women are embraced up to a certain extend. Again it goes back to the role that the woman has defined for herself from the very beginning in the family. So basically we are accepted for what we project to our families and to others. The tricky part is when one decides after several decades of doing the same thing and makes a decision to change, then it can become an issue for the rest of the family, friends. You are no longer in the familiar role that they know you for and that is the litmus test, will they accept the “new you” or not. Also, because we live in a more modernized version of what our parents and grandparents knew in terms of life style, cultural differences and interest I think that if a Latina over 50 is clear about what she wants then the support will come and should be there.

CMC: In your opinion, what do women over 50 have an advantage of over their younger sisters?

Maria: What women over 50 have over our younger sisters is time. And this is a personal comment not all women over 50 may feel this way. I feel that what we have is the wisdom of time. We have lived long enough to speak from that place of having had to deal with life in all its stages and have learned from our mistakes and are willing to move forward and let stuff go when we have to. I am not saying that younger women don’t I know some amazing younger women who are handling their lives very nicely and with strength. But there is something about being a woman in her 50‘s and older and the aging process that fortifies the spirit, especially after you have gone through menopause. There is a feeling of coming full circle with certain aspects of your life. That feeling of not doing enough or wondering if what you’re doing works passes. You are more settled in who and what you are. Because we have been through so many changes in terms of culture, society, history, modernization those life experiences do not come over night. I can certainly tell you that I don’t live nor think the way I did in my 20’s 30’s or 40’s. For me those were what I call the “life ladder lessons”. It was in learning how to deal with loss, death, and being alone that taught me how to be my best friend first. So imagine going through all of that and realize that you can have a certain kind of peace of mind that you value more than material things?

(PERSONAL NOTE: I love when mentors not only share their knowledge but also leave you with questions to ponder. Always take note. Did your mentor not only help you answer a few questions of your own but also set you on a further or new path? It is great when that happens)

Final question.

CMC: If you could please speak to the motivation and inspiration that moved you to begin this journey, can you tell us where would you like to see this event lead and progress to?

Maria: The reason I started Latina 50 Plus is because I felt that the voices of the Latina women over 50 was not being given that space to acknowledge their experiences. Particularly that my generation and older grew up in a time where it was not expected of us to be no more than what society wanted us to be. Our roles in life were delegated to being uneducated, working menial jobs and never to have the opportunity to go beyond high school let alone college. But that was not the way it was many of us went to college started careers were the groundbreakers for many social and cultural programs that started and are still in existence today, or have transformed into other programs. I wanted to create a program that would honor those women who stayed behind to make something work for their children and their community. Create a space for them to tell their stories and histories, especially their histories because history is slowly disappearing. I think it would be good for our younger sisters to learn from these women in their own words what it took to get to this place where information is dispensed instantly from those who put in those years of work and sacrifice to make life a lot easier for others today.

The future goal for Latina 50 Plus is to host an annual conference where Latina Elders will be invited to facilitate workshops where they can share their expertise in various career fields. Also, to start a scholarship fund for Latinas over 50 who may be in need to perhaps go back to school, take that art class, or self improvement workshop, Of course this is the concept and as the program grows this will be open to discussion. This is my vision as a Latina Elder and as someone who works with young folks all the time because I am surrounded by college age students and I hear their stories too. I want to leave them a blueprint and a map to the future and to let them know that with time it does get easier and life is meant to be lived with peace of mind and heart.

Thank you Maria Aponte.

Considering that I will be 50 shortly myself, this interview resonated with me on so many levels. As I am embarking on a voyage of rocky and frightening proportions, to meet such an individual as Maria always feels as if fate stepped in and reminded me that we have to seek out our next steps and solutions as they do not land in our laps as some would have you believe.

I was humbled and honored to be given some of Maria's time as she is busy and this new direction takes every moment she can allow outside of the rest of her life. Gracias hermana. May others, men and women, be made aware of the strides being made in this arena through your efforts and may you continue to impact the lives of people, whatever age, as you share your wisdom and your talents.

To support Maria in her latest endeavor, Latinas Plus 50, go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/latina-50-plus and donate to her crowdfunding campaign. The official website for this event is http://www.latina50plus.com/. See you at the event on June 21, 2014!

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer by trade, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and parenting.
She is writing a book on a series of "Dear Sons" letters to her three sons on an array of topics and issues and is conducting a set of interviews with Latinas whose personal journeys have impacted other lives beyond their own circles. It is called Latinas Who Launch Lives. Both books will be out early 2015.
Carmen's website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Carmen's books can be found online at both Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon
and Barnes and Noble at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/carmen-m-colon.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bullying In the Workplace

There are all types of discrimination, not just the obvious ones. At the workplace, now with companies completely aware that they can be held liable, especially. Yet it is there, beneath the surface, one person’s way to manipulate another.

As a Latina I’ve grown up being told what my rights are. My family is in Law Enforcement. I take justice seriously. I take equality seriously. So what does one do when they work in a place that allows inequality? Should I do as I’m constantly told and keep my head down and just show up so that I can receive a check? Or do I complain, as is my right? What if in complaining and tipping the “apple cart” the powers that be put blinders on and allow Management to harass the squeaky wheel?

It’s funny and sad. I recognize that my saving grace is my sense of self – they can never take that away from me and me knowing my rights are the only thing that keeps me calm when I am threatened. And I am threatened, every day. For every day that things do not change, for every day that injustice is allowed where I work, I know I must say something. I tried for a time to let things be but I could not. There are people all over the world suffering and I feel it heavily weighing on me – my silence.

I could not be silent anymore, so I complained and they pushed back and maligned my character and are trying to attack the only thing they know how to do, my paycheck and I can not stay silent. They want to judge me on technicalities and ask that no one look at the big picture, their big picture. But I learned from the best, the very officers of the company. I know they want more of me, not of them.

They sapped anything of true purpose from that place. They don't follow their own company rules and yet it will be me who will have to prove my worth. Well, my entire life has been about service. Let them try to besmirch that.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dear Sons Don't Fall For The Hype - There's No Sugar With That Daddy That's Why Mom Drinks Tea

Dear Sons;

A short while ago I read about some woman who gave advice to her younger Ivy League alums about trying to find a husband while they were in college so that they can secure a future they supposedly wanted. I laughed then and I laugh now because during those years as you are now learning, it's the beginning of the very journey to finding out what you want for yourself. So when I heard this silly woman try to convince these poor young people that what they wanted was society's definition of "making it" I shook my head sadly because I could imagine how many young people were now being led down a really bad path.

"IDLE HANDS ARE THE DEVIL'S TOOLS" ~ Chaucer, 'Tale of Melibee' (c. 1386)[1]

The idle have been busy at work TODAY! This letter is going to be a two-parter I can just feel it!
You know what I've always said about the quote. People with nothing better to do than cause trouble for others (so that they can feel important) will do exactly that because they are not interested in doing anything with true intrinsic value for others.

Love and marriage are an amazing thing boys and we talk about it a lot because your momma is a loving force of nature. I begin my outlook on everything and everyone from a position of love. I love my universe and I work my way to loving my neighbor (by showing mutual respect) and then I have you three, where all my energy and love is built around. You three are my "All And All".
(Okay, shout out to Joyce Sims, private joke) But at the end of the day I must place myself at my center, I must love and strive for me so that I can be of assistance to you and the ones I love.

This is where so many get it wrong until years and years have passed, including your mom. Love and Marriage isn't what makes your life, it's not the Holy Grail of Happiness, in fact if you set out to find love and marriage as the foundation for a happy life what you may end up with is a life filled with disappointment, distractions keeping you from fulfilling your amazing destinies and heart break with more than a few people whose lives you'll cross. You all know this and you know it firsthand by watching me live my life. I shared everything with you. (with great broad paint strokes and not in every detail as I was not going to rob you of your childhood} When my marriage to your father ended and everyone now (18 years later) sees that it was the healthiest thing for everyone, it seemed that all I was ever told was to find someone else to marry. Someone who could "properly" take care of me and my sons. Now, I knew your dad had a tough time helping out in the finance department, after all what does two twenty somethings really know about living a life in New York City, the most expensive place on earth it feels like, but he struggled just like we all did and that wasn't the root of why we needed to separate.

So many opinions on what to do and how to live from so many people who were having issues of their own! Sure I was skeptical and didn't believe them because if I wanted expert advice I'd have gone out and found me an expert! (Question everything and research what you want and need for yourself!) But these people, many who were older family members all meant well. (I think) The road to happiness (code word: SECURITY) was to remarry and to remarry someone whose income could pay for your way in life. Hmmm, sounds like slavery or prostitution to me. But what did I know, I grew up with Disney and you couldn't get the notion out of MY head that one marries for love and only love. (refer to at least a dozen letters before this one)

So, I'm having my morning coffee and reading this article about some Ivy League misguided (maybe), opportunistic (hmmm, ok, more power to her I suppose) woman who thinks that leading others down this slippery slope of Sugar Daddies and Mommas is the key to happiness. Well, you know the real deal and it's not anything of the kind. There are quite a few reasons why.

1. You become someone's property if they feel they are contributing to YOUR bottom line and that leads to a host of things no young person wants to be a part of (can I get an AMEN i.e. Mariah Carey)
a. trophy spouse, gets a few baubles but no real chance at self fulfillment because now their lives are solely to make the paying spouse happy. Newsflash, entitled people get bored A LOT and QUICKLY.
b. arm candy, is only as good as they fit the mold and their feelings become secondary because King Pin and Queen Pin are too busy getting accolades on their latest and greatest addition to their POSSESSIONS. (they think they own you if they are putting up the money)
c. baby's momma or baby's daddy, code word for "noose around the financial neck AND testicles if you piss them off". The children are their play things and depending on which direction the wind is blowing they are going to play canasta on your ass if there is a loving child in play. (YES, I said canasta. I could have said Candy Crusher but there are a few things from last Century we need to never lose sight of and KEEPING IT REAL is one of them, so look it up at the library or Google it, #whatever, #lastcenturyrocked, "Pinstagram" that kids!)

2. If the person you co-habitate, civil union with, or marry feels they are giving more to the relationship financially then they are going to expect more being given to their hopes and dreams. After all, if someone is going to pay your way, then you better BE GOING THEIR WAY. Boys, the key to happiness is simple yet not easy. You have to be true to yourself and your dreams and your needs first, so how can you do that if you are beholden to someone simply because they make or have more cash than you?

3. Locking yourself to someone because they can provide security means they can feel they can treat you any way they wish. If that means to be abusive verbally, emotionally or physically then they will feel justified. Ok then Ms. Smarty Marry Pants, you can go out and find your next "dominator" or "dominatrix" if you want but my sons and the people I know can master their own lives and destinies by themselves.

4. Most importantly, being with someone who revels in feeling as if they are the center of the universe sets you up for future failures as an individual. How many spouses lose their mate who was running the house or the finances and now find themselves with nothing and nowhere to turn? Of course they are going to try to find someone else because THEY have lived a life of giving over their power to control their lives to someone else. What they need is a dose of, 'this is your life and guess what - THIS IS A NEW LIFE NOW!'

So this person who is currently making money by making "mischief" is telling young people to subscribe to a life of servitude? Ok, go follow that chick and you'll end up in Divorce Court and on an Episode of Law and Order's SVU if you keep looking for people who want a slave, pet, trophy or doormat.

Boys, the story behind sugar daddies and sugar mommas all lies in the weaknesses of human nature. There are those who want to feel superior and look to surround themselves with people not as strong in their opinions about themselves. There are those who feel they deserve their spouses to be subservient, and to them I say, go hire a housekeeper or a cook or an escort. At least they know they are charging for their services and they know it's a job, not a life.

Boys, you know how you feel about allowance time right. Think for yourselves my dears. When I got paid, I gave out allowance and even though I tried to be consistent so that you could rely on that money for your needs there were times I could not always make it the same amount. You hated it because you HAD TO RELY on this one source of income and you all told me the same thing I told grandpa when I was a teenager. "I want to get a job so that I can work for my money and I can pay for my own things." That is right! Now you're keeping it real! Depend on yourselves for the fundamentals in life so that you will always know you can.

You know mom is doing all she can and you also know that mom doesn't gamble her life or the lives of her children on the men and woman in her life, friends or lover. So if it can be done then I will do it. Oh I've had help sure but I've never rested my heart on someone to co-opt my life and then become my lord and master. I am mistress of my journey. The love I've had was always founded on mutual respect, love, affection, admiration and in those instances when I sought help and found them trying to treat me as if I was their property because they held that card over me, then away I went.

I know what it's like to be with someone who made more than me and who knowingly or unknowingly flaunted something that I was struggling with. How asking them for help became torturous because they acted as if helping out was such a chore for them and then they'd insist that I had to show my devotion in kind as if I was bartering my body for a loan to pay my rent. Nevermore. That does not a 'loving relationship of two equals' make. How much money either makes should not be a pre-requisite for a long life of happiness because I guarantee you someone's feelings are going to get hurt and the most independent one is going to move on and leave the other feeling used, abused and like crap. Trying to rebuild a life when the person you thought loved and respected you goes out to find a younger or more exciting model is not a way to go either.

The power my dears is in making yourself your own center. Enjoy meeting so many like yourselves along your journey, especially in college but don't hinge a lifetime on the whim of a stranger out to make a few bucks and a splash on the internet. Especially when you have such amazing dreams and THIS is the time to go for it! You're young, free and independent! Sure you are meeting some amazing people in college right now but you're able to reach for all your stars without fear of too many obstacles that you can't work through! Heck, the most fun your father and I had when we were your age (before and during our dating years) was traveling and meeting new people - and I mean simply exploring and discovering all that the five boroughs of our city had to offer! We loved each other and so we fell for that idea that we should marry and THEN begin our lives but we realized, later on, our lives had already started and even when we divorced, our lives hadn't ended, they'd only changed. Of course we had to change too and we did. We made a real honest deal to parent you all TOGETHER (it's called Shared Parenting), we made a deal to try and help each other if we could, with no promises, no expectations, no illusions and then we set off to seek our own fortunes.

Ok, Shared Parenting and seeking our own fortunes after divorce are definitely in some of my other letters... Don't waste your time looking to lock yourself into a life of possible misery by tying it to someone else's destiny. I guarantee you, a lesson I've only begun to fathom and understand finally after turning 40 is, you will meet amazing, loving and wonderful people. Some who will be of wonderful help to your destiny because in some way you are a wonderful help in theirs. [Ok, insert reason or a season life lesson here]

Here's a sample:

Reason, Season, or Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

Now that you all are working and going to school I wish you so many wonderful adventures and I know you'll meet many reasons and seasons and lifetimes along the way. Just don't drop anchor my darlings and worst off in someone else's harbor. Sail that ship into the unknown, your mom will always be here to hear your stories and give advice if it's asked for. You do have my email right because mom's on her own voyage and I'm telling you those choppy seas may knock your momma around a bit but dammit I'm a hell of a navigator when I'm at my own helm! (I'll send you a post card or write another letter so we can always be in touch for you three are definitely my 'lifetimes'.)

Love always,

PS: Don't listen to people who want to help you navigate YOUR voyage. Don't fall for want of sugar mommas or sugar daddies, it's why I do my own thing ("I brew my own tea, no sugar please") and why rise or fall, it's all me.

PPS: The second part of this letter has to do with giving and getting. You give simply to give not to expect anything in return. That's a business arrangement (Quid Pro Quo) and not what "giving of yourself" is all about. Be on the lookout boys!

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and parenting.
She is writing a set of "Dear Sons" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her ebooks, Out On A Limb, on self confidence and self esteem can be found online in English and Spanish: http://book.flipbuilder.com/CarmenMColon/ The soft cover can be found at: https://www.createspace.com/3853928

If you can show your support by gifting a copy of my Out On A Limb e-book (or two) to a young person, starting at age 7, we would be forever grateful. We want to pay our gratitude forward as much as we can. Thank you for reading. Carmen and the boys

Carmen M. Colon, Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 25, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 21, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, 18, also college bound, is also an amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

[1] Titelman,Gregory, "Popular Proverbs and Sayings"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dear Sons Time Is More Precious Than Sex So Don't Give That Away Either

Dear Sons;

The one thing I can tell you about being in love is that you end up making mistakes. Sometimes over and over but that's not so bad if you learn from them. What I've learned from loving humanity, loving my community, loving my causes and loving the men and women that have crossed my path is this: give them your time and you've declared your love. People will WASTE YOUR TIME trying to distract you with things that don't matter on the LIVE YOUR LIFE scale. "Oh don't love this one, they're too self absorbed or don't commit to that cause it will sap you of your energy AND your money." TEll them this: "I am not here to live for you. Go live your own life."

Oh there are people and causes that I've "lived for", ones that I've devoted so much of my time, energy, emotions, my body and my money to and I've no regrets. I'd done it because I'd made the choice to and so like a mature human being I take full responsibility for all of my actions - even the crazy ones. At the end of the day I chased after that one because I wanted to, or I joined that association or campaign because I WANTED TO. Me, not the people who kept buzzing in my ear and my inbox with their pearls of wisdom being given ever so freely from their hiding place behind their laptops.

The one good thing about having me go before you in this journey called life is that I will not steer you into danger if I can help it. I am your litmus test to the best of my ability and I know that if I can prepare you to make choices that feel right to you, if I can show you that taking sole responsibility for those choices will make you great men of courage and wisdom then I have been the mother I should be.

"The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them."
Frank A. Clark

I know I spoil you all because you three are my treasures, my most precious love in this universe and any other.(Your mom is a sci-fi fan, so sue me) I over indulge you at times and show you some of the better things in life when I am able so that you can seek out your own passions and ignite your own curiosities. I introduce you to people that I feel will enrich your life not complicate it. But I am your mother and I do it willingly and with unconditional love. I also know I am razor sharp when I have to be, I pull no punches, I take no prisoners and I make sure that the punishment will always give you more than pause if you EVEN THINK of repeating something you knew you shouldn't have. I did this so that you would hopefully never have outsiders judge you, punish you, or alter your life. Or when you came before those who might wish to be judge and jury then you would know that those are the ones you must prepare yourselves for. This world is dangerous, people are unpredictable, circumstances are unpredictable but you'll have a fighting chance to survive it if I have anything to do with it. (Terminator 1 and 2 really did a job on me, thank you Linda Hamilton)

I've never kept anything too serious from you while you were growing up, after all I was parenting you on my own. You might have had both mom and dad but dad was always more comfortable being your playmate and your friend. The hard choices were made by me, the groundwork to surviving had to be figured out by me. Time has afforded me the ability to understand choices made by others including your father and so I no longer resent anyone. That's a load off my shoulders and it was the first hint I got as to how I would find happiness in life.

Hanging on for years to old concepts and old feelings of resentment, anger, fear and even love will sap you of your youth, your strength, your prospects and your life: PERIOD. Understanding time would be the key. Let the bad stuff go, let it all go and let those people go. There is only one path to follow and my loves, that's your own. So when you love something, a cause, a goal, a person, a community, give the one thing you can never get back but give it wisely - your time. You can be in a love affair and give of your body, your money, your emotions but when you give up your time you are giving more of yourself than any other gift. Your body will forget, your spirit will learn to soar again and your emotions will heal and wisen up and learn but time you can't get back.

Pining for people to love you back when they don't is a waste. Working for a community that doesn't appreciate all the back breaking and hard working things you contribute means that they don't deserve you, least of all your time. Working towards a goal based on the promise of others or on the promise of money or happiness is a road you don't want to take because you may not reach that goal but you'll have given up all that time. Your journey, each choice you make, each turn you take, that's yours, that's your life. If you make money or lose money while you're on that journey so be it, but making money isn't the reason to alter your choices. We have lived with little and we have lived comfortably and while we joke about being happy to live with great abundance we have seen what that does to people who get that as well.

My love, I might have had to split my time with many while you three were growing up but it was so that I can give you what you needed. Now that you three are on your own journeys, each of you in college seeking your own passions and your own purpose, you see dear ole mom loving our time together. I am blissfully happy on those days I can spend an hour or so with each of you and I am tickled pink when I am in all of your company at once that I can barely contain myself. My three princes, my three loves, my three reasons for being on this earth. For you I will always make time. So when you spend time with others, when you spend time on projects, when you spend time with friends, always make sure they are worthy of it. Don't take excuses and don't let your love for others ever outweigh your love for yourself. Time here on earth isn't promised; a kiss, a hug, that's nice. A conversation, a late night chat even more beautiful. A pat on the back is okay, a certificate, a statue, an article of acknowledgement is fine but days of longing, wishing, hoping to be noticed, no. Don't let it get to that.

There are so many out there looking for you to grace their lives, whether personally or in business. Go out, explore, follow your instincts, discover many things and let them find you and share the one thing that is truly precious, their time.

Now, who has got time to pick me up tonight?


Monday, February 17, 2014

Dear Sons Haters Are ALWAYS Gonna Hate So Don't Fall For The Hate And Switch

Dear Sons;

You know your mom works out in the community and that I'm in the public eye a bit. Not every mom gets interviewed by the New York Times or goes on television on 20/20. You also know that I surround myself with other people who are also out there doing their thing, sometimes also before an audience larger than our city block, our school, our house of worship or our borough/city/town.

You know why I do it, out of a sense of purpose, out of trying to make a decent living so that I can raise you to be civic minded concerned pro-active citizens of our society. The people I have brought into our lives I hope have also shown their altruistic sides for the best that I can do for you is provide you with live human being examples of how to be in this world. Sure, there have been some bad characters that have infiltrated our circles of trust but in time we saw through them and your mom stays away from those sorry miserable people.

But haters gonna hate. There will always be people who will find something negative to say about your mom or the people in our lives. You know what I always say though, "they've nothing better to do than to try and rip someone down instead of simply letting be". They're going to take that "hate" - or maybe let's call it ignorance, jealousy, malice and then try to flip the script. I've learned after all these years that the more people say bad things about your mom the more they give me free publicity. Hey, if they are going to spend energy in talking about me then I hope they add my website link afterward so others can go themselves to check out the one being talked about. (Why pay for website help when there are too many opinionated people looking to do nothing more with their time than just give their opinion).

Don't get me wrong, your mom has a blog based COMPLETELY ON MY OPINION! I write about conversations that I have with amazing people and write about THEIR OPINION. Yet this world has come to the TwitterTwit Age where people think their opinion means more than someone else's. Don't waste your time on that my dears. When you READ or SEE an article or an interview and you find things within the interview that you agree with then you take that with you. If you disagree then you take that with you too. But what do I always tell you my dears? THINK FOR YOURSELVES! When the conversations turn to the things that make people most uncomfortable then you see people at their worst. It is so sad that instead of adding value to the discussion they'd prefer to add noise and melodrama and spectacle. But if it's worth discussing, it's worth taking the hard knocks. No one ever said it would be easy.

Don't fall prey to wasteful distractions of hate mongering. "We ain't got time for that!" Also, don't worry about mommy and the role models I bring to you, we see how the world is. We speak to give people something to think about - FOR THEMSELVES, something to begin a dialogue with. Stay away from those people who swear their thoughts are Gospel, they are not. They will try to get into the conversation fighting everything and then demanding everyone's attention so as to make themselves feel important. Hate and Switch. "Sorry!" I tell them. I don't have time for that nonsense. If you've nothing of value to add but your negativity then you can leave that mess at the door.

There will be times when people gossip, spread rumors and you know what I always say. "If you're so obsessed with me and compelled and are going to say anything about me, make it big and make it interesting!" You add to my value by highlighting your weaknesses. I guess being out in public, trying to do all I can to be a contributing member of my community isn't always easy. Some people just enjoy trying to trip others and see them fall. Don't ever let those people get to you. You have seen me in projects all of your young lives and you have seen the haters come and go and when you and I reminisce and you ask where are they now you can all laugh because often it's nowhere special. Their hatred has held them back.

Face forward my dears, don't waste time and energy on gossip. Be too busy living your life and contributing to your world so you have no time to give any thought to those who want to sap you of your energy or your momentum. As for your mom, she's "old hat" at this and is thinking of giving a class called, "How Haters Can Make You Famous!"

Life can be a treacherous journey my dears. My favorite quote about it is, "Life is simple, just not easy." Keep your focus, keep it simple but know that for those things that matter you'll have to wade through the garbage and that always includes the opinions of others. See for yourselves, hear for yourselves, think for yourselves.

I'm off to my next literary adventure. I love you.


Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and parenting.
She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 25, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 20, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, almost 18 (at this release), HS Senior in NYC, amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

Dear Sons About That Trip To Grandpa in Florida - We Need To Talk About Race And Reason

Dear Sons;

I don't know if you know this but the rest of the world only sees you as black and latino. Nevermind that you are all regular American young men, with parents, okay divorced but nowadays whose aren't. Nevermind that you all went to public school, put your clothes on the same way, listen to music the same way, regardless of the type of music you like, that you have movie nights with friends, you hang out in front or around your school on some afternoons shooting the breeze with your close pals or that you all have had part time jobs just like any other teen or twenty something.

You are Black. You are Latino. That is all some people will ever see when they see you. Now the media has been highlighting some tragedies lately, more dangerous really than the bad negative news we are drowned in on a daily basis. There was the case of Trayvon Martin where he was visiting his dad in Florida, decided to go to the store and on his way home while minding his own business he was killed by a disturbed racist man named George Zimmerman. There was the case of Jonathan A. Ferrell who was a 24-year-old former football player for Florida A&M University who worked two jobs and moved to North Carolina to be closer to his girl who was shot even though all he wanted was help after a car crash. Oh wait, that's North Carolina where your aunt lives. Sorry, that's the next letter. Let me stick to Florida for now.

The latest case is of the murder of 17 year old Jordan Davis when a white man your mom's age got pissed off that an SUV of black teens had their radio on too loud so he went to confront them. For whatever reason that racist ignorant individual felt justified in unloading 10 gun shots into the SUV hitting and killing Jordan Davis. The case was all over the TV, Cable and the internet. The verdict has people pissed off but as long as the man is going to be behind bars I figure God and Karma are going to have their own day in "court" with the man.

I tell you all this because even I as a little girl was given talks by grandpa about how to act and behave when I leave the house. You see we are not white. We are not descendant from the people who put the laws of this land in place. now do we belong here? Oh most definitely. Are we equal in the eyes of the law? No, so I have to sit you all down and school you as my dad has schooled me. There is danger everywhere. You must be aware of your surroundings, of the kinds of places you pass by and the kinds of people come across. When you come across law enforcement, especially in Florida, you stay still, you keeps your hands visible and you be as respectful as you possibly can. If they are being unreasonable say nothing. You know the drill. You call the family lawyer Kenneth. He's in Florida and he knows the law there.

I was blessed in being able to interview Ken, my childhood friend of forty years on this issue. Mom wasn't sure she was going to let any of you visit grandma and grandpa after all this. But I figured who better to ask than someone who had the best view on what was happening in the state that our relatives and so many of my friends from NYC decided to migrate to. Who else to ask (and interview - mom's always gotta hustle for her boys, who else if going to put food on the table) about the law and what appears to be out of control danger for boys of color in Florida than a man who identifies with both sides.

So I interviewed him and I see that it's sadly the same as when he and I were growing up on Franklin Ave in Brooklyn thirty-five years ago. Our parents sat us down and gave us a map on how to navigate and behave in areas where the people might flip out and begin to act unreasonable. What is unreasonable? You sadly know what that's about. Possible name calling, looking for an altercation simply because you are different in look, clothing, language and perceptions. Perceptions are dangerous my darlings and ignorant people brought up to believe the worst of people like you and me will react in unreasonable ways. Even law enforcement even though our family have so many members in and around the country. That won't matter in the heat of the moment if you come face to face with someone looking to make trouble.

Do as best as you can my darlings to extricate yourselves from there. Call, text, IM me, your dad or Ken if you think you are in the middle of something that will become out of your control. DO NOT HESITATE. Whoever is closest will be there for you. Your lives are the most precious thing to us and I will not spend my nights for fear of becoming another mother who loses her child for the stupidest reasons and the ignorant fears of fools. Those mothers did not raise their children to have what transpired happen. None of us do. But this is the world we live in my dears. This is now as it was back when I was a child and maybe, one day it won't be. But until then, we will always have our talks. Because you and I are black. Because you and I are latino.

Now, about North Carolina....

Love Mom

Click on the link to see the interview of Kenneth L. Foote Pasco Criminal Defense Atty on Martin Dunn Case Good Men Project 1.

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and parenting.
She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 25, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 21, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, 18, HS Senior in NYC, an amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dear Sons Failing Is Fundamental

Dear Sons;

Failing truly is fundamental so when you do fail and may feel like often I want you to welcome it the same you would a win-fall. I know you must think mom's screws are more loose than usual but they are not. We've had the talks about doing your best and giving everything your all if you want to succeed but I don't ever want you to forget that a huge part of succeeding is knowing how to fail.

The world will tell you that failing is bad but it's not. Failing is good and it's a part of getting to your goal. The world has become a stupid place, where you're told that if you make a mistake, even the first time around you're a failure. That if you try over and over but don't get to to a specific goal then you are not worth anything. Well you know what mom has to say about that right. The world can take a long walk off a short pier.

Don't EVER get on the merry-go-round hamster wheel that society has created for knuckleheads. Trust your momma when she tells you that life is not what you see on your screens or your apps. It's so much better! You see, no matter what you do in life, if you see the positives in your failures, you will always find joy and true success!

Ok, so here's how it works. You're going to be in a race on field day at school and you are set to run against three of your classmates. You do the three things I always tell you to do: you plan, you prepare and you practice! So, you know that if your race is on Friday and it's say a week away, you start immediately to take note of where you are that moment. What are your resources and tools? SO you plan your meals and you plan to practice so you have a better idea of how the race will feel. You prepare yourself, your body, your mind. You take each day as a learning experience towards your goal and you take notes on the things that you learn about yourself along the way. Remember the whole experience is the journey, not just the day of the event!

The big day comes and you're as ready as you can be right! Mom says you GIVE IT YOUR ALL! You go in with every intention of reaching that finish line. Then what happens? Maybe you trip or someone else trips and throws you off or you simply come in second or third. Does this mean you failed? NO! It just means you reached the finish line after someone else - THAT TIME. Or maybe you didn't reach the finish line - THAT TIME.

Apply that to other things, from getting someone to say yes to going on a date or landing the job you wanted or losing five pounds in a month. Did you plan? Did you prepare? Did you practice? So you fall short. SO WHAT. Falling short is not failing. Failing is stopping. Failing is giving up. Failing is quitting. (unless you're reading my other letter about how sometimes quitting is not failing but succeeding - emotionally.)

If you get to finish line first, great! If you get that job or that date or lose that weight, great! But if you don't THAT TIME, that doesn't mean you won't in the future, as long as you take notes on what you did and look and see where you can change things to make the next time better. YES, THE NEXT TIME. With every try you learn more and more. See, failing to get somewhere once is just that first try. I can overload you with dozens of quotes about trying and trying until you succeed but the truth is that every time you try you ARE succeeding - in getting just one more step closer to figuring things out.

I can't tell you how many times I've fallen short, in my professional life as well as my personal life. But it wasn't always for too long because I wouldn't stop trying. I didn't stop trying to find a job or project that provided me with what I wanted, whether it was personal satisfaction or simply money. I never stopped trying to find love even though my heart had been broken. I didn't stop looking for answers even though the questions sometimes felt as if they were getting harder. Each "failure" at each try was just a step, up, down, sideways, it didn't matter! It didn't matter because it was a learning step. If I did the exact same thing and got the exact same result well then, I learned that was all I was going to get unless I changed something. That includes even my attitude!

Also never forget. ALl those "notes" I tell you to take down? THAT IS YOUR ARSENAL. With everything you learn about what went wrong or right with a decision you made, you create a new weapon. A new piece of data for your hard drive on life. You fortify your bankability by having experiences that brings you lessons and teachings you about yourself and others. It's okay to go into something and win at it a first time. It's great if you can do it over and over but no one is guaranteed success every time, so be ready.

So darlings, think about what you want to succeed in, plan to succeed, prepare yourself and practice if you can so that you can better gauge what you need to do when the time comes and above all else - GIVE IT YOUR ALL! With each shot you take you really are succeeding, in your life.

Love you so very very much,

Love Mom

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and parenting.
She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 25, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 20, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, almost 18 (at this release), HS Senior in NYC, amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Real Deal In A Universe of Phonies

My first contact with a phony was about 18 years ago. A co-worker with the same title that I had, same pay, same duties, came up to me one day during lunch and gave me his card. We didn't have business cards in our department since our primary clients were internal departments and not the public. To reach us was as simple as sending an inter-office memo or an internal office phone call. So you can imagine my puzzled look on my face when I take his card and it stated his title as CEO of a company I had never heard of. Yes, a Chief Executive Officer.

My understanding of what a CEO was had to do with the corporate structure I'd "grown up" with. I'd become quite knowledgeable on who was who on the executive level, what their backgrounds were, their experience, their skill-sets. I also had worked with this guy for about six years and I was pretty sure that I hadn't seen him in any Forbes or Inc magazine articles but I had never seen him featured in our own company newsletter.

Now I didn't judge, I was simply perplexed. Most CEOs were making six figures (remember, this was last Century) and well, they didn't punch in a time clock the way we did. I was mildly curious and I figured he could of course be some eccentric and crazy person who worked alongside the rest of us just to see what real life among the middle class was like. Yet there was something inside my gut telling me this guy was not only being disingenuous but ballsy when he gave himself this title.

Look, I have come to know many people who not only held a full time job but also tried to start a business at home. Twenty years ago to have a business card was a sign that you were on the way up or already there and if my co-worker had started a business then kudos to him. Yet to use the title of someone who you would expect oversaw a company that was either already established or possibly had hundreds of employees or whose cash flow had enough zeros on it to sort of make that connection a much easier one but he had none of that.

I asked him how many employees did he have and he said it was just him and a partner. I asked him how many years had his company been established and he said he was saving up to incorporate himself. I asked him how did he receive payment for his services (he was into organizing night club parties - sound familiar) and he said he was a CASH ONLY business. He used his beeper as his method of communication and while there were websites back then, he didn't have one.

So I did the only thing a girl like me, daughter to a former NYPD Homicide Detective, knew how to do. I looked him up in the yellow pages. I called the operator on my rotary phone and asked for the number of that company. Nothing. I got nothing. Then I called the Better Business Bureau but knew better to really dig because I remembered he said he'd been saving up for the legal fees to incorporate himself.

Fast forward two decades. The internet is a black hole of domain names. You could fill our own universe with the number of at-home businesses with a company of just one employee that filled out forms only to sputter and lose gas before really getting anywhere. I don't look down on any of them as they've gotten farther than those who are working out of their garage or den, using Paypal or Quickpay and filling their 1099s (so the government hopes) every year and who haven't made it official yet. Heck, I've tried my hand at two businesses, followed all the steps and after a few really HARD years I realized I couldn't serve two masters: my full time job that helped me sustain a lifestyle that would raise three boys versus my passion, whose cause and reasons sustained my need for fulfillment and satisfaction that I was indeed making a difference in my community.

Hey, I'm more of an idealist than a capitalist. At least I figured that out. I guess I'll never be THAT kinda financially rich.

After two decades working in cyberspace, going from a graphic designer, to a website developer, to an internet business solutions consultant and then a cyber publicist (came up with that title all on my own too in 2000) and now an internet data tracker and Internet Business Solutions Consultant I am in awe of all the phonies out there. Everyone has an e-book they want to sell and so many actually do! Yes, they get a hint of what the latest trend is and they slap ten quick buzz words or steps together and if they network their affiliations to other companies just right (because after all it wouldn't be an e-book if it didn't have a million links to MORE products and services) then for as little as FREE (hint: NOTHING IS EVER FREE, especially if you end up on a Squeeze or Landing page that wants everything about you, practically your first born - of which many will sell to third parties because they do need to make money off of you now) and the sky (because desperate times calls for desperate measures and if what looks like a popular e-book costs $49.99 then it must be legit right?!)

I've given so much free advice over the years that I'm sure if I had simply charged a dollar I could have bought a nice new car by now. So imagine my shock and then my laughing fit of hysteria when a colleague who had been constantly asking for free advice for years, stumble onto my own website, asked me for some more advice and THEN announced that he too should become a consultant. Dude? You suck. You come to me for advice, you don't do half the stuff I recommend and you have no track record, nothing you can show prospective clients, no testimonials but you want to hang a shingle in cyberspace and call yourself a marketing consultant? Sadly, he's not the only one! There's another person who meets up with new young and hungry young people looking to learn how to break into internet businesses. He promises them that if they hire him he can help their businesses grow and yet, the man is in debt up to his eyeballs and his own online presence is about as visible to the human eye as Pluto is on a CLEAR night.

Finding the actual experts, the real deals has become as rare as finding unpolluted water in West Virginia. Nowadays you can doctor up a profile and repeat it often enough so that the world will believe it and yet have no substance, no real ability to do what you your profile says you can do and make tons of money without actually producing a result. AND if this is how you make a living and you can sleep at nights then hey, Bernie Madoff sure slept well for quite a few decades but look at him now. Besides, since the beginning of time, snake oil salesmen and phony medicine men claiming to be able to cure all that ails you has been out there, except now, they have a cool business card or website or a gimmick that takes your money now and doesn't answer questions later. Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.

As to the real deals out there, and I know quite a few of them, I thank you. You hang touch in a sea of phonies and you do what you do, fighting to get seen or heard throw the roar of BS. You smile nicely to clients who come to you only AFTER they've been swindled and you make payment plans to help them because they spent their money on the shiny fast talking snake oil salesmen who sold them a bill of goods and now you have to clean up the mess. You should have been the first choice had they DONE THEIR HOMEWORK and not been so fast to hire the first thing they saw on the Google Search for those well-paid for keywords. There is a sure fire way to identify you and that's by talking to you and seeing your track record. Also by talking to those in your area and business community. The one great thing about identifying excellence is that you don't have to be liked but I'll bet you're sure as heck respected.

So, if you're ever in need of an expert, do your homework and if you go around telling everyone that you're an expert, you sure as heck better know what you're talking about because a business card calling you one doesn't make it so and knowing a few tricks doesn't make you a consultant, just a waste of people's time, energy and money.

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement, social branding, social media marketing and internet business solutions.
She is working on a free e-book sans squeeze or landing page (she's gone cyber media rogue!) as well as one that offers solutions to cyber businesses new and old on how "do-it-yourself" cyber market your website.
Her personal website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her online professional resume can be found on linkedin.com at http://linkedin.com/in/carmenmcolon
Her company is Gotham Cyber Media Solutions. http://gothamcyber.net
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hidden In Plain Sight

We all do it. There are times we feel as if we are not ourselves and so we pretend everything is alright just to get home or to a place where we feel safe. Whether it’s at a party, or at the office or in church, there are those times when everything we feel, see or even touch feels foreign and out of place.

Some would insist that sounds like an emotional problem, others a possible chemical imbalance in your body. I suppose both could be possible but I’ve come to understand my suit of armor much differently. Those walls you hear and read about in lyrics are real and yes, they can be felt, even climbed. They are made by our fears of the unknown or fear of being hurt and they create an anxiety and stress that always seems to manifest itself in the weirdest ways.

For me it’s huge parties on holidays. I don’t really like them and yet I am known for throwing them. I find that some turn out to be amazing and fabulous memories and then there are those few that made me feel as if I was living an out of body experience, me just going through the motions. So why create the very atmosphere that might make me spend an evening of discomfort? To live. To see if they lessen and to truly try to enjoy those who have been caring and sharing over the year.

We are constantly besieged in this country with bad news, so much so that many do not watch the news as much as it was customary thirty years ago. The anxiety of the next sad or bad thing to happen, and life being difficult as it is, and yet more and more depend on social media to find those connections that going out to the park or even to the department store once brought us.

Which brings us to the most amazing of realizations – where else but online, in cyberspace can you pretend to be who you want to be, it is all masks. It is all smoke and mirrors. It is also the key to freedom if you use it to free yourself. Where else can you learn a new skill, take on a new passion, meet other communities and learn about new cultures.

People hide in plain sight I suppose because we all want to feel and be safe and when times are rough, looking for distraction and escape seems to be the road to least resistance. Yet, it can also be the road less traveled and more difficult but the most rewarding. Either get busy worrying and hiding or get busy exploring, asking questions and learning. Moving forward will get you somewhere a whole lot quicker than standing still or hiding out in your cubicle, in your classroom, on your couch or even – in your head.